Sunday, October 26, 2014

Collier - Teaching Multilingual Children - Revisited

After re-reading Virgina Collier’s “Teaching Multilingual Children,” I feel like I have a much clearer view on how to teach ESL students. Reading this again also just kind of verified how difficult it actually is to teach these students. The biggest obstacle – as Collier points out numerous times – is we need to teach these students English in a way that will make them successful members in society while also keeping true to their own culture and language. What we need to try and avoid doing is what the nuns did to Rodriguez and his family. These nuns were so forceful and strict with only speaking English that Rodriguez felt like his language was something to be ashamed of, and Collier would think that is horrible. Teachers need to be very careful on how they go about teaching multilingual students so they don’t end up like Rodriguez and lose themselves while gaining the English language. Our main goal as educators Collier says, is to be able to set these children up for success in society while allowing them to use their native language to get them through it and help them through any way it can. There are some points I found while re-reading that really confirm my view on it while some are tips for teaching multilingual students:
  1. “Be aware that children use first language acquisition for learning or acquiring a second language” (Collier, p.223)
  2. “Don’t teach a second language in a way that challenges or seeks to eliminate the first language” (Collier, p.227).
  3.  “One must teach in two languages, affirm the cultural values of both home and school, teach standardized forms of the two languages but respect and affirm the multiple varieties and dialects represented among students in class, be a creative and flexible teacher, serve as a catalyst for discovery as students learn to operate effectively in their multiple worlds, be able to mediate and resolve intercultural conflicts, keep students on task and on and on” (Collier, p.222).
  4. “On the other hand, teachers are responsible for facilitating academic language development. Academic language does not come to kids automatically, just because they are in a dominant English-speaking locale. Academic language is context-reduced and intellectually much more demanding. Context- reduced communication relies heavily on linguistic cues alone. It involves abstract thinking” (Collier, p.225).
  5.  “The reasons to use this whole range of activities in the classroom is to eliminate boredom, raise awareness, and make language teaching as well as learning as culturally relevant as possible for students. In this manner, it is hoped that the learning process will not only enrich the life of the student, but also that of his or her teacher” (Collier, p.235).
I think all the quotes I pulled from the excerpt show the difficulties of teaching ESL students but they also give tips on how to teach them successfully. After pulling these quotes, I went back to the week we read this and pulled some quotes from a few classmates blog that also back up the main point:
  1. “Collier explains that as a teacher, our mission is to help our students become fluent in their academic language but also give them the tools to continue sufficiently speaking their native language in the outside world” (Erika Lincoln’s Blog).
  2. “I believe that Collier is absolutely correct in her assessment of how multilingual children should be taught. Although it is the educator's job to ‘facilitate academic language development’ (225), it cannot be lost that it is extremely important ‘to allow the child to express [themselves]... which encourages learning’ (230)” (Chanel Jones’ Blog).
  3. “Collier would disagree with the way the teacher conducted the conversation because she states that, ‘...teacher should be aware of the special kind of speech that mothers and fathers use automatically with their children, and try to emulate this’ (224). Collier calls this ‘caregiver speech’; and two important parts of this speech consists of;‘Caregivers speak in short and simple sentences’‘Caregivers provide models to children by saying for them what the children seem to want to say’” (Chanel Jones’ Blog).
  4. “While reading Virginia Colliers, Teaching Multilingual Children, I feel one of her main arguments is teachers need to embrace the different languages and cultures students bring into the classroom and use that in order to teach children English” (Essence Harrison’s Blog).
  5. “Virginia Collier argues that teachers need to understand the student's language patterns in the home and consider it in the classroom. She explains how teachers try and teach English as a second language that tries to cancel out their first language. Students need to still be able to be themselves and understand their culture. Teachers need to have a variety of way to communicate in the classroom. Teachers need to provide separate lessons in order to fit each student's needs and abilities. The way they teach needs to compliment the four language skills: listening, reading, speaking and writing” (Tonia O'Brien's Blog). (There was no more posts from our class about Collier that I thought I could use, so when searching the topic online, I came across some blogs from past FNED classes and thought this one suited my argument best!)

Overall, I think that Collier is just trying to say that we need to be conscious of the ESL children we teach. Even if we are not the same culture as them, we need to realize that their language is just as valuable and important as the English language. Below is a video I found that have some ESL teaching struggles and strategies that I found to be interesting!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

In the Service of What? - Extended Comments

For this blog post, I decided to do an extended comments piece on Erika Lincoln’s blog. I was reading her blog, and her experience with service learning was extremely similar to mine.

         Erika starts her blog off with a summary and analysis of “In the Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning” by Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer. She talks about the importance and the benefits that students can gain through tutoring at less privileged schools. Just like her, I completely agree that this is the best way that we - future educators – can learn. Though some of the lectures we sit through can be beneficial, service learning will be such a hands-on experience will be so useful and informational.
       In her next paragraph, Erika talks about how she could relate to the students in Mr.Johnson’s class went to under privileged areas and tutored. At first these students were fearful and many of the parents weren’t too thrilled about their children tutoring, “horrifying children running around on a dirty campus." They automatically assumed that the children would be rude, unfriendly and affiliated with gangs. Soon after their visits their view on these elementary school students changed. They came to realize that the children were actually polite, well mannered and well behaved and they stereotyped the families and children who live in that are based on their family’s views and ideas. Just as Erika, I can one hundred percent relate to this. At first I was worried that the children would behave horribly and the school wouldn’t be in that great of shape. I think the biggest reason for this is because all my life, Providence was never looked at as an ideal place to live or even to be in. I had always had the idea in my head that some areas in Providence aren’t that safest to be in and it made me nervous to have to be in one of those areas and teach the students who live there. Just as the students in Mr.Johnson’s class, I realized after my visit how incredibly wrong I was.
     In her following paragraph she describes her personal experience with her service-learning placement. As I read through her experiences at her school, I found myself in constant agreement with her. I had my first visit this past Friday at CharlotteWoods Elementary School in the south side of Providence. Prior to going, I was scared and nervous of what I was going to encounter. I looked online to see the demographics of the school and found a section of suspensions for the school and why there were suspensions. There were a few suspensions last year for larceny, weapon possession, substance abuse and many for violence and behavioral problems. This was shocking for me because with all the volunteer work I have done, I’ve never heard of elementary school students with this kind of behavior. So of course, walking into the school on the first day I was super nervous that I would have some problem children in my classroom. As I pulled up to the school, I arrived at a large and very nice building, when I went inside it was just as nice – even nicer than the elementary school I went to. I then finally got to meet the children I will be working with for the rest of the semester. As I sat and observed the children, they were so well behaved and nice. They started coming up to me and just wanted to know more about me. As the hour passed, I got to help numerous children and found out how incredibly smart they all were. Most of the fifth graders excelled in math, and even the dominantly Spanish speaking ESL students understood the content and were able to successfully complete the material. As my time in the classroom came to an end, I was thrilled. The kids were so nice and inviting and it made me so excited for my next visit. I left with a sense of relief that all my worries vanished and I could now go there and fully enjoy my time and hopefully make a difference in some of the children’s lives. As Lisa Delpit says “teachers are in an ideal position to play this role, to attempt to get all of the issues on the table in order to initiate true dialogue.” Educators can be the ones who can make a difference and bring an end to the stereotypes that so many people have – even including myself. Being in this classroom just completely verified that I am going down the right career path. I hope to do what Delpit says I am in such a perfect position to do – to create a culturally diverse yet equal classroom. Service learning is a great way to learn just how I can do this through the teacher in the classroom, and through the students.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Unlearning the Myths That Blind Us - Reflection

“Unlearning the Myths That Blind Us” by Linda Christensen was a really enjoyable read for me. Last semester, I was able to take the course, “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Masterplots of Gender” with Professor Janice Okoomian.In this course, we discussed everything Christensen did in this piece. Every week we were dissecting a show, movie, book, or advertisement and were able to see just how racist and sexist most of the things we grew up with actually are. Many times, I found myself to be pretty upset with our findings. Most of the stories we analyzed were all Disney classics that I had grown up with and adored, like Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, The Little Mermaid, Snow White, and many, many more. I always left the class with a feeling of anger and sadness because I felt like this class had pretty much ruined these movies and stories for me, just as Justine had felt in Christensen’s piece. However, when I started to really notice all the negative aspects of these stories happening in real life, I understood it and wanted to do something about it. Working in a daycare, I see how these movies and how a lot of other gender stereotypes truly influence children. These kids that I work with are so young, the oldest being 4, and they already know the rules of society and how they should act. One example of this was when a little boy in the daycare went to get a puzzle, and it happened to be a princess puzzle. One of the older girls stood up angrily and said “he can’t do that puzzle!” when I asked her why, her response was simply because he is a boy and should not be playing with anything pink or that has a princess on it. I responded to her by saying that he could play with whatever he wants because these toys are for everyone, just like when you play with the Spiderman car. I felt bad for this little boy because he shouldn’t be getting yelled at by a girl his same age because he isn’t playing with something blue or something that has a super hero on it. 

Another example of how Disney movies are affecting the younger generation is by the games children play. One of the most popular games that the girls in my daycare like to play is, the stepsister game. This game is influenced by the movie Cinderella. One of the girls is Cinderella, and the other two get to be evil stepsisters. The two stepsisters get dressed up and ready for the “ball” but when the little girl playing Cinderella asks to join them, the two stepsisters respond, “YOU can’t come to the royal ball!” I hated this game so much when they would play it that my boss and I decided they weren’t allowed to play it anymore, or if they really wanted to play it, they would have to change the story and allow Cinderella to go. To me, it is so sad seeing these young girls already acting so caddy and petty. I find it really disheartening that these extremely popular movies depict such evil and horrible underlying messages. My hopes in the future as an educator is to, like August, create a safe space for children to come and play and learn. I want the environment of my classroom to feel comfortable, where children can be and play with whatever they want. Where it is acceptable for the little boy who goes to my daycare to have his favorite colors be pink and John Deere green. Even though August mainly focuses on LGBT, I think her idea of a “safe space,” simply put, is a place where everyone, from all walks of life, no matter their race, size or gender, can come and feel equal and 100% comfortable with themselves and their idea of who they should be – not Disney’s.

Below is a video I found, where a little girl is expressing her frustrations with gender stereotypes. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Safe Spaces - HYPERLINKS

       “Safe Spaces” by Gerri August (who is actually a faculty member at RIC) was a very eye opening read for me personally. As a future educator, I never really thought about incorporating LGBT into my classroom, but after reading this, I found it necessary to incorporate it. Today, despite the somewhat modern times, there are still people who are being bullied for being themselves. And in some places, there are schools doing nothing to help these teens. One example of this is happening in the UK.This article tells of the scary and shocking things going on in the UK. British schools are pretty much refusing to accept homosexuality. The most shocking piece of information was that one in seven students were victims of homophobic bullying, and 60% report said staff witnessed failed to do anything about it. I find this to be so sad and absolutely despicable. These are people who are being bullied and tormented and the only people who have the power to actually help, aren't using their power. It was also reported that LGBT teachers in the UK who were forced to resign as a result of them coming out, while the others who had not come out, had to hide their sexuality. As soon as I read this, I immediately thought of Rodriguez's piece. Rodriguez had to hide his spanish speaking in order to fit in, just as not only these LGBT teachers, but also LGBT students. 

Although there is a lot of negativity when it comes to incorporating LGBT, there are also people out there who are working to make positive strides in this fight. This article talks about the thousands of people in Saskatoon, Canada who marched for more LGBT student resources. The main goal of this walk is to get the government to realize that something needs to be done for these LGBT students. The main goal is to get government to allow Gay Straight Alliances in the school. This will create a safe space for the students and a place where they can feel absolutely comfortable. Just as St.Anns church was a sort of sanctuary for the children and families in Mott Haven, a group like this in schools will be just that for students. 

The last piece I have chosen will bring you to a website that gives resources and guidance on how to incorporate LGBT into the classroom - more specifically, elementary school classrooms. As a future educator, I found this site to be extremely useful, because before this reading, I was completely clueless on how to successfully incorporate this into the classroom, and this was a great tool for some idea. When I am actually able to have my own classroom, this is a resource that I will be able to go back to in order to create a safe space in my classroom. 

The following are some statistics I came across online that I found to be interesting.